Written by Kathy Gallo
As any dedicated coffee drinker will know – as well as those who enjoy tea or red wine – our daily brew comes at a price: drinking coffee (or tea or wine) stains teeth. This creates quite a dilemma. We don’t want to give up our favorite beverage but we all want beautiful, white teeth.
If you want to continue drinking coffee but you are looking for a way to maintain your bright and shiny smile, we have a list of methods for whitening teeth at home – as well as some suggestions for avoiding the stains in the first place.
How do teeth stain?
Before we give you our tips, let’s look very briefly at how coffee and other drinks stain teeth.
Our teeth consist of several layers, the outermost of which being the enamel. Enamel is the hardest and most mineralized substance in our body and protects the more delicate layers below.
The enamel on our teeth is covered in microscopic holes. When food or drink becomes stuck in the holes, the enamel becomes stained. This is known as “extrinsic staining”.
However, if we do not regularly clean this extrinsic staining, the tooth below can also become stained; this is known as “intrinsic staining”. Intrinsic staining is much harder to clean, and for this reason, it is very important regularly to remove stains from our teeth.
How can you remove stains from your teeth at home?
Here are our top five tricks for whitening teeth and removing coffee stains at home without the need to see a dentist.
Use a hydrogen peroxide and baking soda mix
This is one of the most popular DIY methods for removing stains. First, you need to prepare a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. Take a container to mix it in and start by adding a few drops of hydrogen peroxide. Then add some baking soda and stir to make a paste.
Once you have made your mixture, there are two ways to use it. Either you can use the mixture to brush your teeth just like with a toothpaste or you can spread it over your teeth and leave it to act for around 15-20 minutes. After you have finished, brush your teeth with regular toothpaste.
Some people might be alarmed at the idea of putting hydrogen peroxide in their mouth since this is the same chemical we use for bleaching hair – but actually there is nothing to worry about at all since hair bleach is a completely different product.
The hydrogen peroxide you use for your teeth is nowhere near as strong as hair bleach: it is a perfectly safe and commonly-used teeth-whitening product. You can buy it online or over the counter; Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide from essentialoxygen.com is a recommended product.
Use a home teeth-whitening kit
Teeth-whitening kits also commonly use hydrogen peroxide as the active ingredient. There are at least two kinds.
In one kind, you apply the product to a guard which you then place over your teeth. After leaving for a specified amount of time, you remove the guard.
The second kind is similar, but this time uses strips. You place the strips on your teeth and leave them to do their job. When the allotted time has passed, you then remove them. However, using these products in the long term can damage your teeth and gums.
Use a whitening toothpaste or a polish
One of the easiest ways to whiten your teeth at home without the need to see a professional is to use whitening toothpaste. These products are easy to find in any store that sells toothpaste; you simply use it instead of your regular toothpaste.
There is some controversy over these products, however. Most whitening toothpastes contain tiny abrasive particles which polish your teeth by scratching them. Prolonged use may wear the enamel on your teeth. Since enamel doesn’t grow back, this can lead to permanent damage.
Another similar option is to buy a tooth-whitening polish such as BR Tooth Polish from essentialoxygen.com.
For those who don’t like the idea of using chemicals on their teeth, a more natural option is to use oil in a practice known as “oil pulling”. The method is very simple: you simply swish a tablespoon of oil around in your mouth for 15-20 minutes before spitting it out.
You can use any oil. Traditionally, sunflower or sesame oil were used but now coconut oil is a popular choice. Coconut oil also has the added benefit of killing bacteria, helping maintain your oral hygiene.
Swill with apple cider
This is a very simple technique. Simply swill with apple cider for 10 minutes or so, spit and brush. This is not recommended in the long term since apple cider is acidic and will damage your teeth.
3 tips on how to avoid stains in the first place
By adding milk to your coffee, you will lighten the color of the coffee and so reduce its ability to stain. The proteins in animal milk also bind to the staining polyphenols in coffee and carry them to the stomach where they can be broken down.
This method also works with tea – but you might not want to try with red wine!
Drink through a straw
If you drink through a straw, the coffee will not wash over your teeth and so will not have chance to stain them. This is an effective method of avoiding stains, but some might find it strange with hot coffee.
Rinse your mouth after drinking coffee or brush your teeth
After drinking coffee, simply rinse your mouth with water. This will remove some of the damaging acidity from your teeth.
You can also brush your teeth after coffee – but you should wait an hour since the acidity of coffee leaves your enamel slightly weakened. And there is another situation, How about if you just finished tooth extraction, should you drink coffee or how to avoid stain? you can find the answer here.
Either way, each time you reach for your Keurig coffee machine or other favorite brewing system, don’t forget to clean your teeth and mouth after!
Continue enjoying your coffee – and keep smiling!
We hope this list of tips has been useful. If you follow our advice, there is no reason why you should have to sacrifice your favorite drink or give up your dazzling smile.
If you take steps to prevent stains from happening as well as removing stains regularly when they occur, you can continue enjoying your coffee while maintaining the white color of your teeth. If in any doubt, don’t hesitate to consult a dental professional.